Sheffield Steelers may be closing in on league leaders Cardiff Devils’ in the standings, but in terms of pound-for-pound expenditure on the team, they are miles ahead.
The owner of both clubs, Paul Ragan, has revealed that Devils coach Gerad Adams is topping the division despite having an inferior budget compared to several teams, including Ben Simon’s South Yorkshire outfit.
Devils are three points ahead of Sheffield, but Steelers have a game in hand.
Ragan bought Steelers in December but has declared that next season the two rival clubs will have “totally the same budget”.
He said: “That is not the case now. Sheffield has upper hand, significantly so, in fact.
“The Sheffield team spends around 20 per cent more than what Cardiff does. But that’s no discredit to Ben...it is what it is as I am coming in at the tail end of the season.”
Ragan also stated: “Rest assured we will not be spending the maximum (Elite League) playing budget; we will be setting a budget with a view that come October if we need to strengthen the side then we will do so. Both teams will have exactly the same money. It has to be that way has to be totally transparent.
“If one of the clubs needs a 10 per increase on October 31, it is up to both coaches to say whether they want to use it or not.
“I will never be shot down for being unfair to one or the other; they will always have the same.”
Ragan acknowledged the wage ceiling enforced by the league wasn’t administered efficiently.
“There is a ceiling to observe - but the governance around the way that is being managed over recent years could be stronger though. I think there has been a bit of a mix and match. The rules of how it is being policed are just not strict enough. Some of those rules have been there to be broken.
“I think its fair to say from the conversations I have had the people that matter in this league are totally committed to that not happening in this league next year.”
Steelers and Devils will not be “at the top end of the cap.” he said.
“I would expect them to be around 75 per cent of the ceiling. With the option subject to the financial recovery of business, to go up to the higher end if necessary.”
Coach Ben Simon said it was mission accomplished following the team’s 4-3 triumph at Hull Stingrays.
A relieved Simon admitted: “At the end of the day, we got the job done.”